Other Crafts

I have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile

Other subject lines that were considered for this post:

"I've got garlic in my soul."
Rejected because: As an individual of Ukrainian descent, of course I have garlic in my soul.  Heart, soul, genes - you name it, it's there.  If I still ate meat, I'd probably be working my way through a coil of kubasa from Tenderloin Meats as I type this.

"I wouldn't touch you with a thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot pole."
Rejected because: In these fourth-wave days of aerosolized droplets, this actually sounds like sound public-health advice.  Thirty-nine-and-a-half-foot poles: when two metres just isn't enough.

Back when Craftster still roamed the interwebs, one of the members posted a picture of this same scarf she had made for herself, along with a bit of a rant how, as soon as she posted it on social media, everybody and his brother dogpiled on her: “Can you make me one? I neeeeeed it!” Several duplicates later, she was sick of the yarn colours and didn’t want to see the darned thing again, when all she had originally wanted was something cute to wear to a holiday party.

My crochet skills at the time were pretty rudimentary and I wouldn’t have dared attempt this for myself back then, but I’ve gained a bit of confidence and really wanted to try it this year. I didn’t include it as a Craftmas post because a) this was for myself, and not a gift, and b) I didn’t have it finished by the 25th. But who cares? It’s still warm and cute!

It’s folded in half in the picture above – the bottom half (not seen) is solid red, and altogether it measures 138 cm in length. I didn’t take a lot of in-progress shots because it worked up fairly quickly and there wasn’t a lot to be said. It’s done in Corner-to-Corner (C2C) crochet, which means that instead of working in either horizontal or vertical rows (depending on your perspective), you work it on the diagonal.

Like this:

See how that one side is much longer than the other? There are lots of great tutorials for it online, so I won’t attempt to elaborate further except to say that if I can do it, anyone can. The way you work “squares” of stitches at 90-degree angles to one another makes for a lovely soft and squishy texture.

The eyes and nose are crocheted, too, and then sewn on, and the mouth was free-hand sewn on. I was going for his devious, plotting smirk.

(I promised my model anonymity in the form of decapitation.)

Even though Christmas is over, I’m still going to wear him until the weather warms up – hopefully he’s recognizable by the general public.

Thanks for looking – Happy New Year! 🙂

craftmas, Cross-stitch and Embroidery

On the second day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: some hoops for the wall (or the tree)!

This is indeed serendipitous timing: I downloaded the patterns for these hoops exactly one year ago (based on the “printed” date at the bottom of the pages). Someone on Lettuce Craft had stitched one of the designs, and I absolutely loved the typography. I immediately went off to download a digital copy of the magazine they were from (the November 2020 issue of Cross Stitcher, if anyone’s interested) even though I knew there was no way they were happening last year, not with 10 days to go before Christmas.

This year, however, I started early to make sure they’d be done. Although I loved the typography, I didn’t love the original colour scheme – the yellow-green looked so wishy-washy – and so I chose my own colours for a bolder, simpler look.

The holly berries were supposed to be red cross-stitches, but I had some beads on hand that worked perfectly. The gold metallic accents were my substitution, too, and worth the frustration of working with metallic thread.

I framed the finished pieces in 4″ wooden hoops that I sprayed with glitter spray paint – it’s not a solid, disco-ball kind of glitter, but adds a bit of shimmer to the plain wood. It also carried the theme of the iridescent fabric, which doesn’t show well in the above pictures. But take a gander at this progress shot:

What a beaut, huh?

My other moment of inspiration in making these: because stitching on pieces of fabric that are too small to fit in a hoop or frame properly is the worst, I cut one large piece and marked off thirds, then centered a design in each third.

My mom laid claim to two of these as soon as they were done, and the third went to a friend. No matter where they hang, though, I hope they spread some holiday cheer.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Yo ho ho and a bottle of…milk

Just a short blast for today, because there’s haunting to do…

I love Halloween. I love cats. So cats dressed up for Halloween feels like a no-brainer, especially if I can work a Satsuma Street design into the mix.

One-Eyed Jack is one of their new Halloween ornament designs for 2021. I was too impatient to order and wait for the kit, so I purchased the PDF pattern from her Etsy shop and printed it out at home so I could start stitching right away.

And you know what they say, kids…if life gives you white perforated paper in your stash when a pattern calls for black, grab a Sharpie and make it so (or “sew”). 😉

I altered the pattern slightly to make his markings look a bit more like my parents’ cat, and I left the plumage off his hat, but definitely added all the sparkly beads and sequins as prescribed.

Because I apparently have too much time on my hands, I created (another!) stop-motion video of the process:

He was a big hit, and is currently affixed to my parents’ refrigerator door via the magic of magnets, keeping watch over any tasty treasures that might get put in there.

Thanks for looking – Happy Halloween! 🙂

Cross-stitch and Embroidery, Other Crafts

Halloween in a box

After what felt like a lifetime away from swapping (it was, gentle reader, a little more than a year), I signed up for the Halloween Spooktacular Swap on Lettucecraft at the very last possible moment to turn their five-some into a sextet. My partner described her style in her questionnaire as vintage with a touch of gothic. The original parameters of the swap were for either one medium or two small items, but we agreed that an extra crafted item would be fine, too. With these guidelines, I pulled together a perfectly vintage-y, slightly goth-y Halloween package.

The very first thing I decided on was this vintage-inspired banner.

I cut out the pieces using my Silhouette machine, “aged” the pumpkins a bit, and then glued the works together. To add a bit of dimension, I used adhesive foam squares in between the pumpkins’ layers to make them pop.

A few close-ups:

One of her favourite Halloween themes listed on her questionnaire was “Sleepy Hollow”. Etsy came through for me, and offered up the perfect little pattern designed to fit a 4″ hoop.

But what to do for an extra crafty item? Maybe something like…

…run with her love of old-school movie monsters and alter an Altoids tin into a spooky tea bag tin (individually wrapped, of course, because we all know not to eat open Halloween treats).

It would have been weird to send a package without a note or card or something, right?

The haunted house card (and the banner!) came from SVG Cuts. This was the second time I’ve put one of their box cards together, and it was deceptively simple to make.

I added in some candy (of course) and a few little Halloween-y extras just for fun, and voila – Halloween in a box.

Thanks for looking – stay spooky! 🙂

craftmas, General Sewing, Other Crafts

On the second day of Craftmas…

…my true love gave to me: a flock of sheep for the tree!

Back in the days of Craftster (RIP), I participated in the Sweat Shoppe Ornament Swap a couple of times. Basically, you’d create three or six ornaments – usually similar if not actual clones of one another – and be partnered up with three or six people to swap one for one. It was really kind of lovely because you could get your ornaments made well ahead of time and then just wait for your partners’ information. Craftster’s successor, Lettucecraft, is still in its infancy and the swap process has been a little different, and there was no SSOS this year.

Being me, I had already found a pattern I had wanted to use, and wound up making a few anyway.

I added some miniature 1:12 (I think?) lights that weren’t called for in the pattern, but took these from just being sheep to actually being Christmas sheep, and therein lies the difference.

These were really simple to make! My first one came to life during a conference call that required nothing from me apart from confirming my presence during roll call and answering the icebreaker question, and I completed the next two over a few evening phone calls with friends.

When I started making these, I couldn’t decide whether their overall vibe was “Fleece Navidad” or “Baaaaa Humbug”, but my “focus group” overwhelmingly preferred the former.

I call them a flock of sheep at the top of this post, but pity the poor collie who has to herd them: they wound up with (or are in the process of making their way to) friends in three different countries.

If the SSOS ever comes back, I might have to revisit these little guys. Love ’em!

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

Creepy? Nah. Kooky? Sure!

It’s no secret that I love Satsuma Street design, like this one and this one. This year, I bought Mister Cat after ogling it for what feels like ages. On Etsy, you can buy either the PDF pattern or the kit; I bought the kit from 123Stitch since I already had an order going.

What I liked:

  • it’s a Halloween cat, duh
  • her designs are always so colourful and fun
  • the kit came with black perforated paper, so I didn’t have to buy a whole package of it

What I didn’t like:

  • the black perforated paper was a bit of a pain to see (like black aida cloth, so no surprise there)
  • I ran short of three – count ’em, three – colours of the threads included. I am not a novice stitcher who has no idea how to get the most out of her materials, and I didn’t have to unpick and waste any thread, so WTH, people? One, I might understand, but three?

And because I’m a masochistic weirdo, I documented my progress in a series of photographs and turned them into a stop-motion video:

I’m pretty happy with how he came out, despite my issues with the kit. I might have to leave him out year-round just to enjoy him.

Thanks for looking – Happy Halloween! 🙂

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

The Mandala(?) Effect

Did you know that Darth Vader never uttered the words “Luke, I am your father”? And that Humphrey Bogart’s Rick didn’t actually tell the piano player to “Play it again, Sam”? If you’re swearing up and down right now that those are the right lines, darn it – and maybe you also remember reading Berenstein Bears books as a kid – you’re likely experiencing the Mandela Effect. It’s a psychological phenomenon in which large numbers of people share the same false memory, and so named after the false memory many people share of Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s (he didn’t, as you might have suspected). This article provides some great examples – as a psych major, I love how weirdly fallible the human memory is.

What does any of that have to do with this project? Nothing, really, except for a common misspelling of near-homophones. Mandela was an anti-apartheid revolutionary. A mandala is a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism.

Guess which one I recently stitched up for the Hoopless Hoopla swap on Lettucecraft?

My partner mentioned she’d like something featuring blue, pink, and/or gold, and had listed mandalas as one of her themes, and it felt like a perfect dovetailing of aesthetics. When I set about searching for a design, I inadvertently saved the same one twice, which I took as a sign that it was the one.

I don’t know who designed this, but isn’t it gorgeous? When I looked at it, my eye automatically divided it into three sections, and I decided an ombre effect would suit it perfectly.

I used DMC shades 3843, 3845, and 3846, the latter of which used a huuuuuge amount because I neglected to account for the fact that each successive “ring” would be so much larger than the last. I had enough, but boy, was I kicking myself for picking a design with such an intricate outer circle.

(And honestly, despite my griping, it’s not that big: only five inches across.)

Some gold seed beads added a touch of elegance and brought the design up to the next level. I agonized over the beads longer than I should have, and tried about ten different iterations of seed beads vs. E beads vs. both, but in the end decided to keep them small and subtle.

I was pleased with how this came out and hoped that my partner would like it, too (spoiler alert: she did). But I positively squealed at the cuteness of what she sent me:

Isn’t that lovely? I love the elegance of blackwork, and those tiny pops of red in the flowers positively make this.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

From the vault: A Lively Tune

This past Thursday, I happened to find myself on someone else’s blog (also hosted by WordPress) and I saw a notification alert in the upper right-hand side of my screen. When I clicked on it, a message popped up congratulating me on my 12-year anniversary of running this blog. Well, then. The date didn’t even occur to me in the days leading up to it, and I didn’t (and don’t) have some sort of special anniversary post planned.

Instead, submitted for your approval, I have two long-finished, never-posted projects.

First up: A Lively Tune by Louise Gregoire Originals. This one j-u-u-ust got framed this winter (pre-quarantining).

The eagle-eyed among you will notice this was actually completed back in 2016 – that’s how long it took for a frame to be decided on – but I started it probably 15 years earlier. It was one of those projects that kept getting put aside because something else took priority. When I studied Ukrainian in university, we watched a National Film Board production called “Teach Me to Dance” (Navche meni tantsjuvate), and every time I picked this up to work on it, that was what crossed my mind and not the actual name of the design. The boy with his wind instrument (surely not a clarinet) seems secondary to the two who are dancing.

Finding a frame took ages. When it was finally decided that yes, this should be framed, it was discovered that a standard 8″ x 10″ was going to be a fraction too small, and cut off some of the background. But lo, Michaels had an 8 1/2″ x 11″ frame that let everything show without a ton of extra blank space.

My mom decided that it needed to go in the hallway, across from another Ukrainian-themed piece I stitched.

This one is a bit *cough*a lot*cough* older: a sampler featuring the Ukrainian alphabet. I designed it myself to hang in my grandfather’s room in the seniors’ home, modifying a Roman alphabet I found in a design book, and adding a few little bits of traditional design for interest. We used to have to recite that in class, and while it’s one thing to be four or five and reciting your A-B-C’s in kindergarten, it’s quite another to be 19 and stumbling over your ah-beh-veh’s. In any case, after he passed away, we got it back, and it’s now hanging in my parents’ hallway.

(Fun fact: the “soft sign” – the very last character, at the far right of the bottom row – doesn’t actually have a capital version. It’s not a letter per se, but a way to modify sounds the other letters make. I’m not really sure why I gave it its own capital. Symmetry, probably.)

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Cross-stitch and Embroidery

It’s your first name initial, a great big initial…

Soooo…a few weeks after the last swap of Craftster/first swap of Lettucecraft wrapped up completely, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a little ‘zine-type booklet in the mail from the organizer. She had made a list of some of her own little good things (like big fluffy cats, fun clothes, oak trees, etc.) and sketched out a small cartoon for each one before photocopying the whole shebang and sending one to every swap participant. How cool was that?

I wanted to send her something back, but what? I like it when crafts can be functional as well as pretty, and somewhere along the line I hit on the idea of a hand-embroidered monogrammed handkerchief. I know the thought of handkerchiefs grosses some people out, but I envisioned this being the perfect accessory for delicately wiping away a tear of joy at a summer wedding, not handling winter-level snotty output. I mean, the handkerchief, at least, won’t fall to shreds after bouncing around one’s purse or being balled up in one’s hot little hand, so there’s that. (This is back when the virus was a problem for other continents, and there was no conceivable reason that there might not be summer weddings. Oh, how I laugh now at my childlike naivete.)

That was nearly two months ago, and I’ve yet to hear boo from her about it. There are lots of reasons that could have happened, right?

  1. The Canada Post/USPS liaison I’ve come to rely on has finally failed me, and it’s lost somewhere in the bowels of the postal system. Maybe it’s just due to the newfound slowness of everything, or maybe USPS squeezed the benign-looking greeting card envelope and was alarmed by it’s plush squishiness and had it destroyed, or maybe the envelope glue gave out and there’s a card and a handkerchief sitting loose and unclaimed somewhere.
  2. The postal system did its job, but as I forgot to add my Lettucecraft handle to the card when I signed it, the recipient has no idea who her mysterious benefactor of such beautiful, heirloom-quality linens is.
  3. It made it to its destination in a prompt and timely fashion, completely unscathed by its rather plebeian form of transport, and…she can’t believe that someone sent her this. A handkerchief? How disgusting! This is the 21st century, people, and Kleenex were invented for a reason! Ugh! It’s things like this that help viruses proliferate. And anyway, this is ug-leee! Those colours assault my delicate eyes!

Of those above, which one feels the most likely? And yet, which one does my mind jump to?

In any case, even if she positively hated it, I was pleased with how it turned out. I used the white handkerchiefs from Sublime Stitching, and they are honestly so perfect. I washed them before starting to embroider in order to remove any sizing, and they’re soft and delicate but not totally papery.

Here, in all its 12″ x 12″ glory, you can see the pattern of the floor beneath it faintly.

Once it’s folded into quarters, you get a slightly better sense (maybe) of how wonderfully soft the fabric really is – that drape, though.

A close-up of the embroidery! I used this pattern, which is probably something I would never have bought for myself, but I love how it turned out. I used stem stitch for the A, satin stitch (outlined with backstitch) for the petals, lazy daisy for the leaves, and a single French knot for the centre of the flower.

I’ve still got three hankies left from the package…I might have to stitch up one for myself, because wedding season is bound to resume sooner or later.

Thanks for looking! 🙂

Cross-stitch and Embroidery, General Sewing

Stop! Grammar time!

Happy Grammar Day! I did not craft some lovely, grammatically sound work of art (nor did I invite the strippers, JFK and Stalin. Always use your Oxford commas, people!), so I’ll leave you with this because it makes me smile.

Oh, Jasper…watch out for that pencil sharpener…

But back to our regularly scheduled crafty post, and apologies for the bait-and-switch.

Back in December, Craftster closed the membership part of its site, leaving a bunch of us without a crafty place to call home. (The site still exists, but in archive mode, and you can still look up projects assuming the original poster didn’t take down her pictures.) Just before that unpleasant little announcement was made, one of the members had started gauging enthusiasm for a Little Good Things swap: we’d send our partner something quick and simple, that took two hours-ish to make, plus a sweet treat and a little card telling what one of our personal little good things was. I liked the idea of a quick turnaround, and if I was considering it before the announcement, the fact that it would be the last Craftster swap ever sealed the deal.

I wasn’t the only one thinking like that: this thing turned out to be epic, with 50 participants (something that hadn’t happened there in years) and zero flakers. I requested two partners, and although there was a bit of overlap between their questionnaires and likes, I wanted to make sure I didn’t send twin packages.

My first partner mentioned adult merit badges as a little good thing, and I thought this would be a fitting way to commemorate her time as a member of the site. I cut two 3″ circles out of light blue felt, and then resized an image of Craftster’s mascot (unofficially known as “Cork Guy”; I don’t think he has a name) to fit and cut him out of felt, too. Cork Guy and the dates were sewn only onto one circle, and then I attached the second one with a rainbow blanket stitch to hide the back of my work. The numbers really set my nerves on edge, trying to make them a) the correct size and b) legible. But oh! I got to use math to figure out how long each colour of blanket stitch should be: πd / six colours = 1.57″ per colour.

Although my second partner had also mentioned adult merit badges, I wanted to go a different route. Her questionnaire declared stormy weather to be a little good thing, particularly if she didn’t have to go out in it. The darker blue fabric with the silver streaks reminded me of lightning streaking across the sky, so I paired it with a bright-sky blue fabric to make a 6″ x 8″ mug rug. There’s a layer of fleece in between to offer a bit of extra cushioning and absorbency. To round out the “cozy night in” theme, I sent a few individually wrapped tea bags and some chocolate.

There’s a happy ending to the Craftster trauma: almost immediately after its closure was announced, a few of the moderators put their heads together and launched a new crafty community. Lettucecraft (Just Let. Us. Craft.) has been up and running since January 1, and it’s already full of crafty inspiration.

As always, thanks for looking! 🙂